A human rights lawyer who works with LGBTI community in Moldova has become the victim of an arson attack.
At about 1.43am on Friday 31 May, Doina Ioana Străisteanu, found her car alight outside her office in central Chisinau, Moldova’s capital city.
She said an unknown male allegedly committed the arson ‘after several years of threats of death and violence’. She reported the attack to police whom she said refused to investigate because it did not consider the damage ‘significant’.
‘I’m shocked that threats became real. I fear for my family more than for my own security,’ she told Gay Star News,
‘I feel alone and I am convinced that inaction of the police will encourage further attacks.’
Since 2010, Străisteanu has represented Moldova’s only LGBTI organization, GENDER-DOC. She believed her work as an outspoken human rights activist made her a target and also why police refused to act.
Străisteanu did not receive any injuries in the attack. But she is unable to drive her car which received €3,500 (US$3,947) in damages – a figure she can’t afford.
GENDERDOC-M’s lobby and advocacy coordinator, Angelica Frolov, told Gay Star News Străisteanu has been critical in advancing LGBTI rights in Moldova.
‘She is an impeccable professional and enjoys the trust of LGBT people. With Doina’s help we have won a number of extremely important cases against several public figures who have used homophobic slurs publicly.
‘As a result of these court judgements, the level of public hate speech has fallen enormously. She is a respected lawyer who can oppose even the judges if they do not respect the law.’
Target of violence
Last month’s attack was not the first time Străisteanu has faced violence. In 2017, her neighbor allegedly spilt oil on her door while singing church songs and hurling abuse out her.
‘He was never punished for his actions by police or by the courts although I did lodge numerous complaints,’ she said.
‘I filmed his attacks and posted them immediately on the Facebook to make sure people were aware of this attack and could help me.
‘But for making public his assaults and threats I have been sanctioned for violation of his personal data – because I recorded his face and his voice without his consent.’
Străisteanu was not sure if she could continue her human rights advocacy if the police won’t protect here.
‘I am deeply disappointed and feel out of control, helpless. Bot in 2017 and now,’ she said.
‘Police do nothing because they say it is not serious enough. Well, sorry I was not killed… but what happened is systemic and serious enough for myself, my family and my clients whom I will have to refuse to defend if I am not certain that some piece of protection can be offered to me too.
Moldova and LGBTI rights
Moldova, a landlocked country in eastern Europe ranked 42nd out of 49 countries on LGBTI rights on ILGA’s (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) annual Rainbow Index. Orthodox Christians make up 93.3% of the population, where even senior church officials attack the LGBTI community.
A poll carried out in Moldova asked what sort of people did Moldovans not want living near them as their neighbours. The results were shocking. Many responded they did not want ‘homos’, people living with HIV or Romani people living near them
Gay Star News reached out to Chisinau’s central police but did not receive a reply at the time of publishing.